Cheap second life cells from Aliexpress (Varicore 280Ah)

Rolfs

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2021
Messages
4
I'm just posting this as info for anyone else that might be looking for data.

I'm building an off-grid home soon and I'll have a 50kWh lifepo4 battery charged only from solar.

You can buy off the shelf battery systems here in Australia, about the best deal I can find costs $5500 for a 10kW pack with 200Ah cells installed.
So if I use these packs it is around $27500 for the house battery.

I love electronics and writing software and so the idea of just building the battery myself is more attractive that buying an off the shelf unit.

Looking around about the cheapest cells I can get are the Varicore 280Ah from the MEIBrand store. These are only $150AUD ($111 USD) delivered!

Looking at the photos I guessed they are really Lishen cells and that they are second life from looking at the terminals and messy laser welding.
So the Lishen was a 272Ah to start, I know they often test higher for the first few tests but they settle down eventually.

I ordered 16 cells for $2396AUD on September the 4th. This was the whole price including delivery and import duties.
My cells arrived on October 22nd.

The cells were really well packaged in large cardboard boxes and surrounded by thick custom made foam.

The cells could not have been damaged by normal transport.

I visually inspected each cell and weighed it and they were all 5.2kg +-140g
The cells are all clean and undamaged. If you lift the black cover on top you can see where the original serial has been scratched off.
The new terminals are laser welded on you can see where the old ones were ground off. The welding is B grade.
I tested the MR of each cell and they were all pretty close.
I checked the voltages and they were all close to 3.2v.

I selected the cell with the highest IR and ran a full charge to 3.65v and then a discharge to 2.5v on my EBC-A20 and the cell delivered 255Ah

I'll test them all eventually, but I was expecting this to be the worst cell due to the IR and so it was my baseline.

So these cells look to be down about 10% from new capacity, that equates to about 1500 cycles old.

I asked around and I found a guy who thinks that if you are lucky many of these cells came out of large UPS that may have spent most of the time fully charged.
He said if you were unlucky they may have come out of a bus and been worked very hard.

From the science i can find, lifepo4 batteries that have been cycled very lightly or kept mostly full can recover 10% when they are put through several full charge/discharge cycles and so those UPS batteries have the potential to actually improve initially!

Anyway, so it works out like this:

MEI Varicore 280Ah re-lifed Lishen 272Ah

Tests as 255Ah
Cost delivered of $150AUD per unit
Cost 59 Cents per Ah
Cost 18 Cents per Wh

So if I build my battery from these cells I get a 13kWh battery for $2400 (cells) plus $500 for the BMS/Cables and box.

So that means a 50kWh battery will cost me $11600 to build myself.

I've been buying from China for decades and I've dealt with many different factories and intermediates.
When you import something yourself you take a risk, I have seen guys in a freight company playing football with packages. I have seen guys in distribution centers open boxes and replace items with bricks or counterfeit items.
There is always the chance that you might not get what you expected. I always consider that I am self insuring myself with the lower price.

When I can I take out insurance on any shipment, but I always pay with either PayPal or a Credit card so that if I get ripped off I can (probably) get (most) of my money back.

I'm not suggesting this is the way anyone should go, you can buy quality brand new cells from Amy for about 39% more, and you won't have to worry about testing and balancing them or adding a BMS etc.

In my solar system the cells will likely never see more than 50amp discharge rates as I'll have 4 48v packs in parallel (each with it's own BMS) and the charge rates will be much lower. I'm going to limit the usage to the 80% of capacity which gives me the 40kWh that I think should be more than enough.
By doing this I would expect these cells to last a really long time.

I'm still planning to buy most of my cells new from Amy, but I think I'm quite happy with this purchase.

I know someone is going to say "But dude you bought 280Ah and you got 250Ah so you got ripped off" but personally I find it hard to feel ripped off when I got 13kWh of batteries for $2400 ;-).

IMG_20211024_085404.jpg

varicore-280.jpg
 
Last edited:

Rolfs

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2021
Messages
4
After looking at all the cells I found one where the original barcode was not completely removed. Can anyone confirm this is a Lishen 272Ah?
varicore-qrcode..jpg
 

Rolfs

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2021
Messages
4
As you would expect the capacity of the battery correlates with the IR of the battery (I'm testing them at 3.2v and the IR changes with SOC)
So the worst battery was 255Ah and the selecting a battery from the middle of the average IR (after removing the highest and lowest) resulted in 268Ah which is the test result below. I'll test them all eventually, but I'm getting a pretty good idea of their capacity at this point.
2021-10-26-9-3-35-EBC-A20.jpg
 

RCinFLA

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Jun 21, 2020
Messages
1,775
150 mV terminal voltage slump from rested OCV for only 20 amp, 0.071 CA load is bit much. Definitely a very used cell. Things will get a lot worse if you try to draw more current. This assumes your curves have separate battery terminal voltage sensing and does not include voltage drop from 20 amp cables.

A new cell at that discharge rate would have about 30 mV terminal voltage slump.

If you don't need to pull much current and you are happy that is what counts.
 
Last edited:

JdR

New Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2021
Messages
1
I'm just posting this as info for anyone else that might be looking for data.

I'm building an off-grid home soon and I'll have a 50kWh lifepo4 battery charged only from solar.

You can buy off the shelf battery systems here in Australia, about the best deal I can find costs $5500 for a 10kW pack with 200Ah cells installed.
So if I use these packs it is around $27500 for the house battery.

I love electronics and writing software and so the idea of just building the battery myself is more attractive that buying an off the shelf unit.

Looking around about the cheapest cells I can get are the Varicore 280Ah from the MEIBrand store. These are only $150AUD ($111 USD) delivered!

Looking at the photos I guessed they are really Lishen cells and that they are second life from looking at the terminals and messy laser welding.
So the Lishen was a 272Ah to start, I know they often test higher for the first few tests but they settle down eventually.

I ordered 16 cells for $2396AUD on September the 4th. This was the whole price including delivery and import duties.
My cells arrived on October 22nd.

The cells were really well packaged in large cardboard boxes and surrounded by thick custom made foam.

The cells could not have been damaged by normal transport.

I visually inspected each cell and weighed it and they were all 5.2kg +-140g
The cells are all clean and undamaged. If you lift the black cover on top you can see where the original serial has been scratched off.
The new terminals are laser welded on you can see where the old ones were ground off. The welding is B grade.
I tested the MR of each cell and they were all pretty close.
I checked the voltages and they were all close to 3.2v.

I selected the cell with the highest IR and ran a full charge to 3.65v and then a discharge to 2.5v on my EBC-A20 and the cell delivered 255Ah

I'll test them all eventually, but I was expecting this to be the worst cell due to the IR and so it was my baseline.

So these cells look to be down about 10% from new capacity, that equates to about 1500 cycles old.

I asked around and I found a guy who thinks that if you are lucky many of these cells came out of large UPS that may have spent most of the time fully charged.
He said if you were unlucky they may have come out of a bus and been worked very hard.

From the science i can find, lifepo4 batteries that have been cycled very lightly or kept mostly full can recover 10% when they are put through several full charge/discharge cycles and so those UPS batteries have the potential to actually improve initially!

Anyway, so it works out like this:

MEI Varicore 280Ah re-lifed Lishen 272Ah

Tests as 255Ah
Cost delivered of $150AUD per unit
Cost 59 Cents per Ah
Cost 18 Cents per Wh

So if I build my battery from these cells I get a 13kWh battery for $2400 (cells) plus $500 for the BMS/Cables and box.

So that means a 50kWh battery will cost me $11600 to build myself.

I've been buying from China for decades and I've dealt with many different factories and intermediates.
When you import something yourself you take a risk, I have seen guys in a freight company playing football with packages. I have seen guys in distribution centers open boxes and replace items with bricks or counterfeit items.
There is always the chance that you might not get what you expected. I always consider that I am self insuring myself with the lower price.

When I can I take out insurance on any shipment, but I always pay with either PayPal or a Credit card so that if I get ripped off I can (probably) get (most) of my money back.

I'm not suggesting this is the way anyone should go, you can buy quality brand new cells from Amy for about 39% more, and you won't have to worry about testing and balancing them or adding a BMS etc.

In my solar system the cells will likely never see more than 50amp discharge rates as I'll have 4 48v packs in parallel (each with it's own BMS) and the charge rates will be much lower. I'm going to limit the usage to the 80% of capacity which gives me the 40kWh that I think should be more than enough.
By doing this I would expect these cells to last a really long time.

I'm still planning to buy most of my cells new from Amy, but I think I'm quite happy with this purchase.

I know someone is going to say "But dude you bought 280Ah and you got 250Ah so you got ripped off" but personally I find it hard to feel ripped off when I got 13kWh of batteries for $2400 ;-).

View attachment 69946

View attachment 69945
Thank you for posting this - especially with the $/Wh costing.
 

Rolfs

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2021
Messages
4
Just a follow up. I have been cycling these cells from about 20% to 90% for 4 months now.
The cells as a pack deliver about 255Ah and I aim to pull about 230Ah daily.

I am using a Vevor 5kW inverter to charge the cells and I have about 2kW of solar panels connected.

I am using a JK BMS that has 2A cell balancing and out of all the cells there are 2 cells that are always high (during charging) or low (during discharging). I am about to order some replacement cells as I think if I replace the 2 worst cells I can get the pack back up close to 265Ah

Overall the pack has performed well. I have a cheap thermal imaging camera that I used to make sure all the connections and cells are OK, if anything that heats up more than the average it is always a good indicator of a bad connection.

So to sum up, 4 months in I still think that $2400AUD (about $1750USD) for a pack that reliably delivers 13kWH is an amazing deal.

Of course I don't know how many cycles I will get, but the degradation is a linear thing, so I don't expect it to suddenly drop over night, I expect at least 2000 cycles for every 10-20% loss and that means this pack will be operating for many years.

Finally, I ordered from a large and well established provider on Aliexpress, maybe I got lucky, maybe half their stuff is garbage. I honestly don't know. If you order, be prepared to underwrite your own risk, if you have the stomach for that!.

Finally I have been communicating with https://tianshibattery.com they absolutely swear that they are selling absolutely brand new cells. They can source anything, but for the 272Ah Lishen cells they are quoting $95 USD or $135AUD FOB. This would be a good price, if they are really brand new A-Grade new cells. I am fairly close to ordering from them now. I figure that if I can get 2 more great cells I can lift my whole pack by 20Ah and I can build a 250Ah 12v pack with the worst cells.

If/When I order from tianshibattery I will post the update here.
 

740GLE

Solar Addict
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Messages
1,138
If you reduce your SOC draw down (use 50%) by adding more storage, I’m sure you can lengthen the life of the cells quite some time.

Best of luck playing Alibaba roulette next time your order cells.
 

LionMC

New Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
4
Just a follow up. I have been cycling these cells from about 20% to 90% for 4 months now.
The cells as a pack deliver about 255Ah and I aim to pull about 230Ah daily.

I am using a Vevor 5kW inverter to charge the cells and I have about 2kW of solar panels connected.

I am using a JK BMS that has 2A cell balancing and out of all the cells there are 2 cells that are always high (during charging) or low (during discharging). I am about to order some replacement cells as I think if I replace the 2 worst cells I can get the pack back up close to 265Ah

Overall the pack has performed well. I have a cheap thermal imaging camera that I used to make sure all the connections and cells are OK, if anything that heats up more than the average it is always a good indicator of a bad connection.

So to sum up, 4 months in I still think that $2400AUD (about $1750USD) for a pack that reliably delivers 13kWH is an amazing deal.

Of course I don't know how many cycles I will get, but the degradation is a linear thing, so I don't expect it to suddenly drop over night, I expect at least 2000 cycles for every 10-20% loss and that means this pack will be operating for many years.

Finally, I ordered from a large and well established provider on Aliexpress, maybe I got lucky, maybe half their stuff is garbage. I honestly don't know. If you order, be prepared to underwrite your own risk, if you have the stomach for that!.

Finally I have been communicating with https://tianshibattery.com they absolutely swear that they are selling absolutely brand new cells. They can source anything, but for the 272Ah Lishen cells they are quoting $95 USD or $135AUD FOB. This would be a good price, if they are really brand new A-Grade new cells. I am fairly close to ordering from them now. I figure that if I can get 2 more great cells I can lift my whole pack by 20Ah and I can build a 250Ah 12v pack with the worst cells.

If/When I order from tianshibattery I will post the update here.
Hello mate, I've bought the cells from Cynthia of tianshibattery, I learned about this brand through facebook @tianshibattery, and finally traded with her on Alibaba, which at least gave me a little more assurance. The battery has performed well so far
 

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